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Corinthian taking allowance-to-Travers route
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The Jim Dandy won't be the only race on Saturday's card that will be used as a prep for the $1 million Travers on Aug. 26.
A second-level allowance race earlier in the day at Saratoga includes Corinthian, a 3-year-old who is making his first start since being disqualified from first place and placed third in the Fountain of Youth on March 4.
Corinthian suffered a hairline fracture to his left hind ankle upon his arrival to Belmont Park from Florida in late March. Trainer Jimmy Jerkens had him back in training by May, but had to stop on him after he developed a severe case of skin disease. Corinthian has been working steadily since late June and blew out three furlongs in 36.29 seconds over the training track Thursday.
Jerkens said he preferred the allowance race over the Jim Dandy for Corinthian because of Corinthian's rambunctious behavior at the gate.
"You never know what he's going to pull before the race," said Jerkens, who is running Oh So Awesome in the Jim Dandy. "Maybe he can win an allowance race doing all that stuff. He's certainly good enough to run in the Jim Dandy, but for the long haul it's best to go for the allowance race."
Jerkens said Corinthian's behavior has gotten slightly better.
"He seems to be a little better around the barn, but he still sweats profusely," Jerkens said.
Before his disqualification in the Fountain of Youth, Corinthian won a one-mile maiden race as a 2-year-old and then took a first-level allowance race by three-quarters of a length over Jazil in his 3-year-old debut at Gulfstream Park. Jazil would go on to finish in a dead heat for fourth in the Kentucky Derby before winning the Belmont Stakes.
Javier Castellano retains the mount on Corinthian, who breaks from the rail in the seven-horse field. Castellano is committed to ride Bernardini in the Travers.
Corinthian will be coupled in the wagering with Reverberate, who finished second in last year's Jim Dandy and sixth in the Travers.
Sir Halory, a winner of two consecutive races, is the horse to fear.
Sir Greeley on vacation
Jerkens noted that Sir Greeley, his talented sprinter who won the Grade 3 Westchester Handicap in May, has been turned out for the summer. Sir Greeley was scratched out of the Tom Fool handicap last month because of stiffness.
"I'd rather get him fresh for the fall," Jerkens said. "He's run right through for a whole year. It looked like time to give him time."
A 4-year-old gelded son of Mr. Greeley, Sir Greeley was beaten a neck in both the Grade 2 Richter Scale Breeders' Cup and the Grade 1 Carter handicaps earlier in the year.
Songster to run in Amsterdam
On Saturday, Tom Albertrani will run his best 3-year-old router when Preakness winner Bernardini runs in the Jim Dandy. On Monday, Albertrani will run his best 3-year-old sprinter when Songster runs in the Grade 2, $150,000 Amsterdam Stakes.
Songster is coming off convincing wins in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens Breeders' Cup Handicap on Belmont Stakes Day and the Hirsch Jacobs Stakes at Pimlico on Preakness Day. Initially, Songster was going to train up to the Grade 1 King's Bishop on Aug. 26. The Amsterdam will serve as a prep to get him there.
"We were thinking maybe just the King's Bishop, but he's doing so well we decided to run him in the Amsterdam," Albertrani said. "We got to thinking it's just too far in between races from the Woody Stephens to the King's Bishop."
Songster completed preparations for the Amsterdam on Thursday by working four furlongs in 50.72 seconds over Saratoga's main track. He didn't look very smooth in the work, switching back to his wrong lead nearing the wire.
"If you watched him work, you wouldn't be very impressed with him," Albertrani said. "If you asked him to go, he'll do more than he needs to do."
Others pointing to the Amsterdam, run at 6 1/2 furlongs, are Court Folly, Island Warrior, Noonmark, Regent Spirit, and Saint Daimon. Disco's Son, Fabulous Strike, and Grand Survival are possible.
Awesome Twist to Forego
Awesome Twist earned a spot in the Grade 1 Forego with an explosive stretch kick to win a stakes-caliber allowance race on Wednesday's opening day card. Taking advantage of a rapid pace and a heady ride by Javier Castellano, Awesome Twist rallied to win by a half-length over the Grade 1 winner I'm the Tiger. He is now 2 for 3 at Saratoga.
It was Awesome Twist's second straight allowance win since returning from surgery to clear up inflammation in his hind ankles. Awesome Twist, whose mother, Flat Fleet Feet, was a stakes winner at Saratoga, will run next in the $250,000 Forego on Sept. 2.
Following Awesome Twist's allowance win June 14 at Belmont, trainer John Kimmel had considered running Awesome Twist in last month's Tom Fool Handicap. He thought better of it, however, considering that Belmont Park lover Silver Train was in that race.
"It was so damn hot that weekend and you got the Breeders' Cup Sprint champion, who's been [nearly] undefeated at Belmont," Kimmel said. "I said let me tackle those horses in the Forego, so I went in this race instead."
Kimmel said he thinks the seven furlongs of the Forego will suit Awesome Twist.
Kimmel may be running horses in two other Grade 1 events at this meet. He said he plans to enter Classy Charm in Sunday's Go for Wand, but wants to take a look at the entries before committing to run. Classy Charm has won two minor stakes at Belmont, and is also eligible for Monday's $70,000 Ashado Stakes.
Kimmel will definitely run Premium Tap in the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap on Aug. 5. Premium Tap is coming off a minor stakes win over Sun King at Belmont last month. On Thursday morning, Premium Tap worked five furlongs in 1:01.62 under jockey Edgar Prado.
"He was pretty sharp leaving the pole," Kimmel said. "He went the first three-eighths in 36, so Edgar knew he had done plenty, so Edgar kind of just sat on him. I think the horse is an improving horse. He's a dangerous horse if he can run his 'A' race against a little better-quality group than he did last time."
Nineteen horses were nominated to the Whitney. Those expected to run include Flower Alley, Invasor, Premium Tap, Siphon City, Sun King, Wanderin Boy, and possibly West Virginia.